Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Real Men

[UPDATE 7/31/11:  It has come to my attention that this post has angered some men who identify as Traditionalist, or who may be sympathetic to Traditionalism.  Readers who are new here should know that in this post, and on this blog in general, I speak solely of my own experience.  I mean no harm to anyone, Trad or otherwise, and my intention with this post was certainly not to sow further division among Catholic men and women, but to acknowledge that we are all deeply wounded, and to pray for the healing of all, both as individuals and as members of the Mystical Body.]

When, after a lackadaisical childhood catechesis, years spent doing my own thing, and a dramatic conversion experience, I came back to the Catholic Church in 2002, I found that there was a New York City subculture I had never known existed: the subculture of young orthodox and Traditionalist Catholics.  Many of this subculture’s adherents were actively looking for a mate, and I dated a few of them, which was an experience unlike anything I was familiar with from my own long romantic struggles. 

Many of the men in this subculture were what I can only call essentially wounded in their masculinity.  It was as if their self-identification as men had been haphazardly constructed out of subersive images of masculinity refracted to them from the culture; as if, finding certain norms of masculinity repellent (not without reason, it must be said), and not having had male role models to demonstrate for them any ontological qualities of manhood, these young men had skirted around the edges of male behavior, and had finished by taking affect for essence.  Their own masculinity seemed to have been forged in opposition and negation, cobbled together out of strong, oppositional attitudes to what repelled them culturally, rather than out of any positive attitudes, such as the wish to take on essential male roles -- engaging, for instance, in meaningful ways in the existential struggle to fight real enemies, and providing for and protecting the vulnerable, including women and children.  In addition, some of these men seemed to have self-consciously adopted certain styles, tastes, hobbies, and mannerisms associated with other times and places than twenty-first-century New York, identifying themselves more with, say, Europe before World War I, or fin-de-siècle Paris, or the New York of the Gilded Age.  One man from this set whom I dated asked me seriously once whether I considered myself American (he didn’t, in spite of the fact that, like me, he was).

I do not mean to suggest that these men were homosexual.  As far as their actual sexual problems and proclivities went, I did not get close enough to any of them to be able to speak with any authority.  However, I began to believe that the one I got closest to had a problem with pornography based on one or two little hints he let drop, and also on the fact that, after we’d decided to be “just friends” and I got engaged to someone else, he emailed me some disturbing soft-porn images of an Eastern European dominatrix whom, he said, I resembled.  This man was employed in a field related to Catholic apologetics, and I'm not saying that to be a successful, or even a sincere, apologist, one must be free of dark sexual neuroses and addictions.  Only God knows what is in the hearts of any of us, including, as we have seen lately in the case of the disgraced Fr. Corapi, in the heart of the priest who is saying Mass, and in the hearts of those who appear to be the most holy.  Only God knows what snares they must outrun each and every day of their lives in order to escape falling into the hells that are peculiarly painful and horrible and familiar just to them.  But I am saying that the combination of qualities that I saw in this man -- a shrinking from true, essential masculinity, a way of being a man that in fact seemed gerry-built upon opposition to cultural standards of masculinity, a self-professed orthodox Catholicism veering towards Traditionalism, and some deep-seated sexual problems -- struck me as disturbingly emblematic of a certain kind of orthodox Catholic man.

In other parts of  what someone has called "Catholic Blogistan,"  the “sola skirtura” debate rages on.  This debate couldn’t be more preposterous, or a less compelling use of mental energy, to me personally, but my background is different from that of most of the people who frequent these particular Catholic areas of the interwebs. For some of the skirts-only enthusiasts, it's ostensibly a question of femininity.  For others, it's a question of women in pants committing some kind of sin against God and man by allowing the outline of their lower body to be seen, rather than inferred.  While these arguments are not interesting to me, however, the evidently torrid atmosphere from which they arise is.  I can't help but thinking that men who get hot and bothered about whether women wear pants are coming from a place that I can only call sexually troubled, and it reminds me of the sexual woundedness I encountered in the men of the orthodox Catholic subculture into which I ventured after my reversion.

I do not mean to suggest that I am not sexually wounded myself.  I am.  And, as I mentioned earlier, neither am I suggesting that sexually-wounded men cannot be effective apologists.  They can.  It is when they write or speak out of a poorly-hidden crisis in their own masculinity, which I believe is a reflection of a cultural crisis of essential masculinity, that I get worried for women.  Some orthodox Catholic men, on the one hand, appear to be trying to regain an impossible Edenic ideal of manhood and fatherhood that they may never have seen or experienced in their own lives.  Others, though perhaps unconsciously, appear to do everything possible to avoid the self-sacrifice called for in marriage and fatherhood by attempting to disassociate themselves from any accepted cultural norms of masculinity, and, in so doing, fail to present themselves to eligible women as viable potential husbands and fathers.

The same man who sent me the dominatrix pictures before my marriage confided in me his great fear -- a phobia, really -- of one day having a child with Down syndrome.  His revulsion for children with Down syndrome was so unusual that I wondered if it was, like his apparent attraction to S&M pornography, another part of his wounded masculinity, as if being unable to love the obviously disabled were somehow connected to preferring exaggerated images of unbalanced sexual power to the vulnerability (and, one could say, the shame) of a sexual relationship between normal, fallen, imperfect, broken husbands and wives.  (It has occurred to me that, as much as I may or may not resemble an Eastern European dominatrix, he would have been terribly disappointed and unhappy being married to me.  And if we had been married, and had happened to have disabled children, as I do with the man whom I did marry, I doubt he would have stuck around too long).

I have no answers to the problems of wounded masculinity and femininity in the Church.  We are all essentially broken, after all.  Nonetheless, when one of us is wounded in this fundamental way, and acts out of his woundedness, and does damage to others as a result of it, the entire Mystical Body of Christ suffers.  I hope and pray that priests and laypeople may work together to heal the wounded -- i.e., our brothers and sisters and ourselves -- which I think would go a long way towards healing relationships between Catholic men and women.


Rebekka said...

I don't really find the skirts-pants "modesty" issue interesting (either) so much as the "blood in the water" reactions that inevitably show up. I like your thoughtful approach to possible background dimensions that do not involve "you're just sexist" vs. "you're just worldly".

Enbrethiliel said...


Pentimento, have you heard Tori Amos's cover of Real Men?

I'll have to reread this post before I leave a more substantial comment than that, but I wanted you to know that you're already getting me thinking. There's a lot here to chew over.

Mrs C said...

"Others, though perhaps unconsciously, appear to do everything possible to avoid the self-sacrifice called for in marriage and fatherhood by attempting to diassociate themselves from any accepted cultural norms of masculinity, and, in so doing, fail to present themselves to eligible women as viable potential husbands and fathers."

Well put! Thankfully we've both found real men!

Pentimento said...

No, E., I haven't heard it. I'll look for it on Youtube.

Pentimento said...

Yes, Mrs. C (big sigh of relief). I thank God for that every day!

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you for a well thought-out and provocative essay. Lord, have mercy on our men, and on us all. You are right that though we can't expect perfection, we can work and pray for healing nonetheless.
Have you read Karl Stern's Flight from Woman? My daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day ;-) and I haven't got very far in it. Though the title may hint otherwise, I think the author's ideas may be helpful in thinking about these issues.

Enbrethiliel said...


The "sola skirtura" part of this post reminded me of the time a friend and I were discussing veiling in church. He said that it was curious to him that so many men are passionate about what is essentially a woman's issue. The way he was talking about it made me think of the fancy lingerie men sometimes buy for their wives, and I wondered whether a veiled Catholic woman represents a "holier" kind of male fantasy.

I don't mean that in a lewd way. What I'm trying to get at are the ideas of "taking affect for essence" and "self-consciously adopting certain styles . . . associated with other times and places." There's nothing wrong with a hat, you know--but apparently, the mantilla is still the ideal. A few weeks ago, I decided to expand my church wardrobe by wearing colourful, sometimes sheer scarves and pashminas instead of a veil. My mother said, "I don't know any Catholic who deliberately steps out looking like a Muslim"--and I actually wondered whether I was hurting my chances with Catholic bachelors by presenting myself in such a fashion. (Not that I ever had any chances with Catholic bachelors, but a girl can dream . . .)

And now I wonder, Pentimento, whether what you're saying about wounded masculinity can be turned right around and be said of wounded femininity. About a month ago, I read a blog post by a happily married middle-aged man who wondered why perfectly attractive single ladies didn't seem to know how "to domesticate" their own boyfriends and make them want to settle down. A commenter asked, "If they come from broken homes, how would they learn?" Apparently, what was once a talent common to all women is strange and foreign to my own generation.

Pentimento said...

Oy, GretchnJoanna -- the man I mentioned in my post also recommended Flight from Woman. I will have to read it now!

And yes, absolutely, E., I agree that we are deeply wounded in our femininity as well. There is a lot of anxiety over the issues you mention. I think that unfortunately -- or maybe this was just true in New York City when I was having my "coming out" as a single Catholic lady, the pickings were also somewhat compromised. There's been a lot written lately in the secular press about how young women have become a cheapened commodity because of their belief that they have to provide sex for men without being married to them, which makes them less likely to BE married to them.

GretchenJoanna said...

The confused man mentioned it?!
Karl Stern's conversion from Judaism to Roman Catholicism is the subject of another book by him, which would be a good read, too, I'm sure.

ex-new yorker said...

"The way he was talking about it made me think of the fancy lingerie men sometimes buy for their wives, and I wondered whether a veiled Catholic woman represents a 'holier' kind of male fantasy."

Yeah. And the anticipated incredibleness of unveiling "God's most beautiful creation" within the sacramental sanctity of marriage. Or maybe that's just my female attempt to understand it. I wish I had it in me right now to flesh out (no pun intended?) some thoughts about the ways orthodox Catholic men go on about the female body in combox discussions, etc., about modesty and/or chastity, and my personal reaction. Well, I mean, flesh them out worth reading. I think part of my reaction is from "wounded femininity" and my own personal woundedness, anyway. I feel a bit guilty writing this because my own husband doesn't have the time or inclination for much blog reading or commenting, partly because it's just not his personality to get so absorbed in it and also as he's busy uncomplainingly picking up lots of household slack for me, and has not subjected me to any of this kind of thing himself. I still don't find it easy to ignore.

Pentimento said...

Ex-New Yorker, is that whole "God's most beautiful creation" thing a Theology-of-the-Body bon mot? I dunno, I'm not a man, but oceans and mountains, the stars, etc., just seem so much more beautiful to me.

Pentimento said...

Yes, GretchenJoanna, the same fellow, believe it or not. I'm going to pull it off my shelf and put it on top of my pile now.

ex-new yorker said...

I'm always hesitant to blame even the popular TOB interpreters/commentators, let alone the original TOB itself, for ideas I've probably mostly seen from semi-random Internet writers. I wouldn't even be surprised if some of what I'm reacting to is from the kind of guys who aren't keen on the "modern" TOB -- or NFP -- the ones who are so emphatic about men's uncontrollable response to any sight of the female body, no matter their frame of mind beforehand. There may be some overlap though.

My husband is picking up slack as I type so I'll have to leave it at that for now. :)

Darwin said...

I dunno, I'm not a man, but oceans and mountains, the stars, etc., just seem so much more beautiful to me.

Ah, but the stereotypical man does not think about mountains and stars and such every five minutes.

If one thinks about women all the time, but is not honest enough to admit that this is because one... thinks about women all the time, then one has to claim that it is the entire cosmos forcing one to think of this all the time. God's most beautiful creation.

I'm not one to ignore a well put together woman more than the next fellow, but it does do to be honest about what one is doing rather than supernaturalizing it.

Pentimento said...

This seems like an excellent point to me, Darwin.

Otepoti said...

And on a lighter note, there's a woman in Christchurch who knows she's got a good 'un:

after the Mag seven earthquake of September, there was much talk about which Christchurch buildings were still vulnerable. Christchurch Women's Hospital had been singled out as a particularly bad risk. So on February 22, when the second and much more damaging quake struck, there was a woman giving birth in the birthing suite, and ALL the attending staff ran away to take shelter.

The woman's husband stayed with her.

Wouldn't you like a husband who'd come through a test like that with flying colours?

Pentimento said...

Man deserves a medal.

A friend read this post and mentioned to me privately that there are women in these subcultures too who, as she put it, "go along with the fantasy." I suppose these men would be more successful outside of New York, where women, it must be said, are somewhat aggressive.

ex-new yorker said...

I would probably have gone along with the fantasy if I could have imagined that I (my body -- they really seem to emphasize the female "form" in these comment box rhapsodies) constituted a proper example of God's most beautiful creation being unveiled.

I must not appreciate my husband enough because it is unthinkable that he'd leave me while I was in labor during an earthquake! He may not have been raised with all the right ideas, but he certainly demonstrates that traditional male protect/rescue impulse toward friend and stranger alike.

Pentimento said...

I'm not entirely sure if the "God's most beautiful creation" guys are the same guys who reject conventional norms of masculinity and don't consider themselves Americans, though there may be some overlap.

ex-new yorker said...

Yeah, I have to admit I have trouble even understanding the version of masculinity you're describing -- I don't know what count as "conventional norms of masculinity" anymore anyway. I actually hope this one guy you speak of is unique. More unique than everybody else...

Some of the stuff about women seems to be within the romantic TOB context (how the beauty of the body reveals all this meaning, in addition to helping procreation along) but some of it comes from men who sound kind of angry about women not realizing how visual the men are. I can cope with the fact that they are more affected by what they see, but then you get into (again, very vehement-seeming) declarations about how male sexual arousal is almost 100% conditioned on the visual, and it feels dehumanizing and alienating ... it's very different from the TOB-derived romanticism about the language of the body and learning to view members of the opposite sex as whole people and all that.

So I may be misunderstanding your description of this guy and his weirdness in consequence of my own preoccupations (and general difficulty completing a thought lately).

Pentimento said...

Ex-New Yorker, the Catholic subculture I describe is not necessarily a TOB subculture. But then again, I'd have to have been extremely close with these guys to know what they thought of TOB. I would say that their particular form of sexual woundedness was discrete from any sort of TOB ideology.

Now, as I've asked you before . . . would you please write a guest post about the things you're putting into your comments? : )

Anonymous said...

Oh, right -- I never thought they sounded very romantic/TOBish. Sorry for not making that clear. But I'm not quite sure if the specific sort or topic of vehemence I'm thinking of would go along with the other traits.

Guest post, um... I have actually been thinking about it, even though I feel like a freak just admitting in the comments how heavily some of these things have weighed on my mind. Next week I'll be freed of my college course so I'll have a little bit more time to contemplate it more seriously.

Pentimento said...

That must be you, Ex-New Yorker. Don't feel like a freak. Look how much proverbial ink is being splashed trying to denounce or justify women in pants.

ex-new yorker said...

Yep, that was me, I was on my BlackBerry and thought I was logged in to my Google account.

I remember reading an anti-pants page once by this young guy, I think a Catholic convert, quite a few years ago. I think he was going on about how he wouldn't marry a woman who wore pants. He also had a David Duke fan page. I wrote him an email about what I perceived as the incompatibility between supporting David Duke -- just saying "what I perceived" because I'm not any kind of expert on what David Duke actually promoted -- and being a Catholic and his response was basically to grant my point. (I would never write such an email to a random Internet guy like that nowadays, because I'd expect a very different reaction.) Not sure he ever took down his page... I wasn't a regular reader.

elena maria vidal said...

GREAT post! I have had similar experiences. I am getting sick of the skirts/pants debate, too, and I am one who used to write about it. I wish people would just wear what they are comfortable wearing and not worry about everyone else!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

I, too, have run in to some of these men in the Washington, D.C. "scene." My husband and sisters have run into them in NYC. It's a peculiar affectation that tends to go with not so much with TOB folks, but with traditionlists. They tend to be overly concerned with femininity, pretty ecclesiastical ornamentation, and Europe. They tend to be both controlling and frightened of women, and they like to play at being Evelyn Waugh without the talent. I believe it's both the result of utterly degraded genuine masculinity in the world and reaction to the "scary" worldly world out there, particularly in big, power hungry cities like DC and NY. Maybe the poor things think that by escaping into the "good old days" they are shaping catholic culture. In reality, they are freaking people out.

Pentimento said...

Lydiapurpuraria: Yes to everything you said.

Calah said...

I loved this whole post, but it was really Lydia's comment that had me rolling. Freaking people out, indeed. Also, have you noticed the resurgence of smoking hand-rolled tobacco and drinking designer beers among these types? OR is that just particular to UD's college campus?

Pentimento said...

I agree about Lydia's comment. I wish I had written it. But where I come from, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and drinking designer beers was more of a hipster thing.

priest's wife said...

this is a post to ponder...maybe these kinds of men are atrracted to a more traditional form of worship because they need the 'rules'?

Pentimento said...

That could be. Rules and regs can be a substitute for real discipline and sacrifice.

Enbrethiliel said...


Lydia's comment had me rolling, too, but made me realise that I might have misinterpreted the scope of your post, Pentimento, the first time I read it.

I believe that the crisis of wounded sexuality is general is pretty universal these days. But its manifestation in New York is something I have yet to see--and kind of want to see, now that I've read Lydia's description of it. =P

(That friend I mentioned in my earlier comment has also discussed Fatima and the idea of war as punishment for sin with me, and since then I've always thought of the loss of healthy manliness--and womanliness--as a kind of punishment for sin as well. But I could also be stretching things too far . . .)

Pentimento said...

I rewrote this post for Vox Nova, and the one there is less about my experience of the subculture Lydia and Calah describe so well and more about sexual woundedness in general, E.

ex-new yorker said...

I can't let myself dwell on this extremely absorbing subject too long when I still have so many work hours to get tonight, but I LOVE Anthony
DiStefano's comment on your Vox Nova post. Or his first comment if he left more than one, because I really had to tear myself away. I think he said a lot of what I have been trying to say (maybe more in private than in this comment box here).

Enbrethiliel said...


Thank you for pointing me to the rewritten post for Vox Nova, Pentimento. I don't stop by there much, so I would have missed it otherwise.

I'm not going to comment there because I'm shy with strangers (Ha!), but I agree with Ex-New Yorker that Anthony DiStephano's comment is wonderful. And I had to laugh at someone else's observation that many of the men you're basing the article on are members of the Chesterton society. As I've said, I don't know the New York Catholic scene very well (or at all!), but the men I was immediately reminded of when I read this post are definitely Chestertonian! =P

Finally, Anne's comment toward the end of the thread (so far) appeal to some of my own very recent thoughts about Catholic celebrities in entertainment. I was thinking more along the lines of Catholics no longer representing "religion in general" in television and film, but I never considered Anne's observation that it might be because we also no longer represent "religion in general" to the world.

Pentimento said...

I agree, there've been some great comments, and Anthony DiStefano's is superlative. He's a fantastic writer.

Tony said...

@Pentimento - 9:41

Wheee... I feel like I just walked into a shrink's office and a bunch of women tackled me and tied me to the couch, and are analyzing me "by committee". :)

I have been insterested (and angered) the way popular culture handles portrays masculinity... either "Homer Simpson" or "Hannibal Lechter". It's a cartoonish portrayal designed, I'd imagine, to appeal to the feminists.

I am unapologetically American. And American, I like to think, in the mold of the founding fathers who pledeged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for a dream of being the masters of their own destiny.

I also am an orthodox (small 'o') Catholic (big 'C') :) I am attracted to the Latin Mass, and my wife and I attend on First Fridays. The rest of the Sundays and HDOCs we go to our local Novus Ordo Mass. I'm attracted to it not because of my need for rules, but from everyone else's disdain for them. I'm tired of the wishy-washy forms of narcissistic, "how great we art" worship that infects many of our local parishes.

You may think it arrogant, but I don't hide out at Latin Mass because I think that I can do better as a "seasoning" for my local parish, nudging them in the right direction.

As far as TOB goes, I think Chris West has gotten really wierd lately and has taken TOB to a somewhat cartoonish level. I believe we are beautiful and created in the image and likeness of God. We are designed to enjoy each other in the bonds of sacred matrimony, keeping ourselves open to the blessed gift of children (whatever challenges they might provide).

As far as pants go, you go ahead and wear pants if I'm allowed to wear a kilt. I think skirts make a woman look more feminine, but I wouldn't go to the degree the Muslims do with pants AND skirt.

So do you think there's hope for me? (I may be commenting on this on my under reconstruction blog. This is actually a very good piece of writing. Very astute and relevant).

Pentimento said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Tony. I can see that I didn't mean *you.* ; )

Anonymous said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. I have so much to say regarding this topic, it would be far easier to sit down over coffee and discuss it because I think it involves a conversation and a dialogue.

I thank you for raising this issue because it presents much larger questions about the idea of becoming a community (of so-called orthodox/traditionalist Catholics). And I'll discuss what I mean more in subsequent posts. I need a little time to formulate my ideas and respond to this heaping of a post I awoke to.

I'm on vacation at the moment, but have a lot to share with you, from both a broad and personal perspective, if you are interested.


Pentimento said...

I welcome your thoughts, Clark.

Iggy said...

Very insightful post. Although I'm same sex attracted, I suppose I fall into your category of being a young self-styled orthodox man and empathize with those who come across as being disordered. In my case, I don't intend to be a hypocrite- I believe what the Church teaches about my condition but still find it incredibly difficult to be chaste. Again, speaking from experience, I agree that some of the guys who are the most apologetic about orthodoxy tend to be the ones who have the most sexual issues. In many cases, orthodoxy provides a rigidness and security that is lacking in one's life. In a worst case scenario, engaging in high profile pious behaviors provides a way for these men to cover up (consciously and subconsciously) their troubles with relationships.

For many of these men, anything that goes beyond conventional orthodoxy or traditionalism is threatening to their identity. It's like a deck of cards- pull out one obscure tenet (e.g. veils for women are an inherently good thing) and their faith life crumbles down.

Most guys, though, I think are like me. We know that we are weak and that we badly need the Church. This need can become obsessive and a projected ideal of what the Church should be is created. Because the real Church, a Church of saints and sinners is beyond any ideal, guys can use the discrepancy between the real and ideal as a source of blame for their own mortal and relational troubles. Sometimes when an ideal is all that you have, you fiercely protect it.

Pentimento said...

Beautifully put, Iggy. You should have written this post. Thank you for weighing in.

Anonymous said...

I will only say one thing to this article:

The blame game that you're playing on the men, YOU are partially responsible for, because for men to act MANLY, they need a FEMININE woman, and women DO NOT KNOW HOW to be feminine anymore. They need to learn, and if they don't learn how to bring out the masculinity in a man, they'll end up miserable with ANY man they get into a relationship with, EVERY TIME.

This is an absolute fact, and I have multiple proofs of it. I'd dare any woman to challenge me on it, because in every situation, I would win the argument hands down.

--A mother of 6

Otepoti said...

Mother of 6, anonymous at 6.11pm, I'm a mother of 6, too, the joyful mother of a majority of boys. One of the constant puzzles of child-rearing today is how to raise a boy child with a healthy view both of his own masculinity, and how it should relate to the distaff side of life.

I tried to solve this puzzle by betaking myself to one of the sterner Protestant denominations, which preached wifely submission, and even female submission in the wider society, on a frequent basis. I persevered in this denomination for more than twenty years before being broken by the internal tension, that the submission demanded (if not always extracted) by the men from the women was qualitatively different from any submission they, the men, were placing themselves under. Wifely submission is easily defined and readily spotted; the husband's reciprocal duty to love his wife and submit to authorities both temporal and spiritual is much less easily quantified. Sauce for the goose was not sauce for the gander, at least in the Protestant churches. Any man who finds himself offside with his Session takes himself elsewhere to worship, and takes his wife and family with him. The result was and is many unhappy, even bitter women.

I mention this only to make the point that wifely submission, though necessary even unilaterally, when the husband has no intention of reciprocation, is no cure-all. The only answer I have been able to find is that we must all place ourselves in proper submission to God, through Christ and His Church, and for this reason (as well as many others!) I have placed myself in an RCIA class and hope to be received in due course.

I believe that this sort of solution is the very one that you, Pentimento and I are all coming to, from rather different points on the spectrum and in widely different locations.

May we all be one in Christ.

Enbrethiliel said...


Pentimento, I don't think your post is a move in some "blame game," but since the anonymous mother of six brought the term into play, I gave it some thought, anyway.

I guess that blaming unfeminine women for a loss of masculinity in men is a start, if you want to dabble in theory forever; but where does one go from there? I don't think the men mentioned in your article will automatically drop their precious affectations (or their pornography) just because they've come face to face with some paragon of feminine sweetness and light.

And this might just be me now, but someone saying that it is up to a woman "to bring out" the masculinity in any man she is involved with reminds me of people who believed, at the height of the priest abuse crisis, that priests wouldn't have taken advantage of teenage boys if they had had wives to have sex with. Perhaps Anonymous just missed the point of your post, but the idea that a man's porn addiction could be "fixed" by having a willing (and feminine) sexual partner totally glosses over the nature of sexual woundedness.

Finally, I'm probably hitting below the belt here, but I have to wonder about a woman who recommends FEMININITY in all caps and then says things like, "I'd dare any woman to challenge me on it," and "I would win the argument hands down." If the feminine is what is graceful and gentle, diplomatic and compassionate, and concerned with the feelings of others, then your post beats her comment . . . hands down. =P

Pentimento said...

Thanks, E. Of course, there's no way to know whether Anonymous is really a woman.

I believe Anonymous found this post because an angry traditionalist man read it when Abbey-Roads linked to it last week. This angry man then proceeded to start outraged threads about it at fisheaters and another similar forum, and to write an outraged blog post about it on an angry-man type of blog.

Interestingly, though I'm sure his intention was at least in part to fill up my combox with righteous rants from the "remnant," this is the only comment the post received as a result of the hundreds of page views his attention conferred upon it (except, that is, for his own angry comment, which I deleted, because it was full of irrelevant ad hominem insults, and I deem comments like that unworthy of publication).

Enbrethiliel said...


I've just spent the last half hour playing detective. I found the threads started by the angry man.

Wow, Pentimento. People are really, really upset! =P

This reminds me a bit of my last "Bad Catholic Thought" post, except that you're lucky enough not to have angry commenters flooding your combox. I think that might have something to do with comment moderation taking away the instant gratification of seeing one's rant show up immediately under a post.

Richard C. said...

The desire to identify with an older Europe rather than America may come from a reaction against unhealthy elements in the US national mythology, such as the concept of a purified Protestant new beginning in a republic away from corrupt old Catholic monarchical Europe. If the break with the old fatherland encouraged a pattern of rejecting our fathers, then the desire to heal the breach may be an impulse to recovery.

America's concept of patriotism in this invented country is somewhat artificial too, based largely on political loyalty to the state's ideology, instead of on the natural love for one's homeland, people, culture, and birthplace. (Cf. John Rao's essay on Americanism)

Pentimento said...

Interesting point. Indeed, I'd be hard-pressed to define what American culture is. And, based on the hundreds of pages of invective that this post has inspired on some Catholic forums, I am not sensing a lot of love lost for one's fellow Americans on the part of many men who believe (mistakenly) that it was an attack on them.